Dear Saint Luke’s,
In all of God’s great wisdom, who knew that a boy who grew up in the mountains of Colorado would spend over 15 years in Atlanta? My three years at seminary and 12 years serving with you at Saint Luke’s has turned this guy into a “y’all-saying, grit-loving, 285-driving” pastor.
You nurtured a young, fresh-out-of-seminary pastor. I made mistakes, found my preaching voice, and helped deepen and grow youth ministry at Saint Luke’s. Your grace and encouragement made all the difference. I cannot state strongly enough how much of a gift you all are to me and my call to ministry.
Saint Luke’s is a fantastic place, and that makes this news hard to give. Kara, Mia, Paxton, and I are moving to Bend, Oregon. We will be close to my family: my sister and my parents all live close to Bend. Kara has accepted a Nurse Practitioner position at a family practice there. I’ll continue my work as a coach in the Vital Congregation’s network for the denomination but do not have a full-time ministry call.
Let me be very clear that leaving Saint Luke’s is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. I love you all. I am not unhappy, or mad, nor leave do I leave with any bad feelings. My ordination in the sanctuary brought me into the fold of Minister of Word and Sacrament. You baptized our children and held those promises well. You claimed us as your own. There is nothing more a pastor could ask for in serving a congregation.
I will miss all the “big ministry” things, of course: Christmas services with sheep going down the aisle, Easter, the bagpipes on Scottish Heritage Sunday, the Tartan Trot, the summer trips, internships, and all the youth group nights. But what I will miss most, I suppose, have to do with dad jokes, porch conversations, phone calls, text messages, laughs, and cries. As your pastor, you have invited me into some of your deepest moments. It has been a privilege to be part of them. I consider this invitation to be one of this profession’s most humbling and profound gifts.
We are still working on our exact transition timing. As of now, we will be in Atlanta through December 20. I will lead virtually and come back a time or two after that. We will celebrate my service to the church at the end of January.
I wish I could give you this news in person and come to each of your houses to say goodbye. It is the love and respect that you all deserve. One of the hardest parts of this is that I can’t give each one of you a handshake or a hug. But know that over the next weeks, I’d love to come by your driveways and share some time together.
Grace and Peace always, Phil
On Thursday, November 19th you are invited to join Phil on a zoom call at 8:00 PM. Check your email for login information